Being located in the south of Germany, Munich has developed into one of the most prosperous areas of Central Europe. Since it is home to numerous global companies such as Siemens and BMW it is one of the most expensive cities in Germany. Nevertheless the “Weltstadt mit Herz” (cosmopolitan city with a heart) has kept much of his traditional character.
Starting in the heart of Munich, at the Marienplatz, you can easily find multiple landmarks. The Frauenkirche (Women’s Church), Munich’s most famous cathedral, is situated there, as well as the old and the new Town Hall. Take your time and watch the daily carillon (daily at 11am and 12pm and 5pm in summer) there. You can also climb the 306 steps of the Alter Peter (Old Peter), the tower of St. Peter’s Church, to get an awesome view over the city. On sunny days you get a nice panorama view of the Alps. The Marienplatz is also part of the pedestrian area (it is the most lucrative in Germany) making it the perfect starting point for a shopping tour.
North of the center you will find the Odeonsplatz with the Feldherrnhalle, a monument built for the Bavarian army in the middle of the 19th century. Since it was the place where Adolf Hitler tried to start a coup in 1923 it has been abused as a cult place by the Nazis. Next to the Odeonsplatz you can visit the Residenz, once home of the Wittelsbacher, a bavarian dynasty. Another castle is the one of Nymphenburg in the northwest of Munich. It was built from 1664 - 1679 for the elector Max Emanuel. Decide for yourself, but probably its garden is at least as lovely as the castle itself.
Moving up the Brienner Straße, Munich’s first boulevard, you will get to the Königsplatz. The square is edged by three neo-classical buildings inspired by the architecture of the ancient Greece. Having been claimed and rebuilt by the NSDAP (National Socialist German Workers' Party) it didn’t regain its original condition until 1988. Today it is a setting for open air concerts and other cultural events.
To experience Munich at its best, you have to visit Bavaria’s capital at the end of September or at the beginning of October. This is the time when the world’s biggest fair takes place: the Oktoberfest or “Wiesn” (as locals call it since it takes place on the Theresienwiese). With around 6 million visitors per year it is a unique experience. To find a place in one of the popular Bierzelte (tents) you have to come early in the morning, especially on weekends. Be aware that you have to pay about 10€ for one Maß (one liter of beer). Moreover it contains more alcohol than normal beer so you should drink carefully. If you are planning to visit the Oktoberfest be sure to look for accommodation at least six months in advance. Keep in mind that hotels are more expensive during that time. If your stay does not coincide with Oktoberfest you can visit the Hofbräuhaus to get some of the cheery atmosphere anyway.
Peace & quiet
There are various places in Munich that invite you to take a short breath and relax. The Englischer Garten (English Garden) is one of the biggest inner-city public parks in the world. It is likewise a meeting point for tourists and locals, especially students. The constant wave of the Eisbach (ice river), made the Englischer Garten a meeting point for surfers from all over the world. Another nice parc is the Olympiapark. You can take a tour on the roof of the Olympiastadion, visit the free BMW Welt (BMW World), go up the Olympiaturm (Olympic Tower) to have a cup of coffee while enjoying a breathtaking view over the city, or simply go for a walk around the lake.
Food in Munich
Munich also offers a lot of culinary highlights. Probably the best place to go in order to taste different delicacies is the Viktualienmarkt. It is open everyday except for Sundays and even the celebrity chefs of Bavarian cuisine come here to buy their fresh ingredients. Take your time and have a seat in the Biergarten (beer garden) to taste some of Munich’s specialties. For example roast pork, white sausages with a pretzel and sweet mustard or of course beer. Due to tradition you are even allowed to bring your own food to the Biergarten as long as you order drinks.
Rainy day activities
There is still plenty to see and do even if it rains in Munich. Those of you who are interested in science and technology truly have to visit the Deutsches Museum (German Museum). It is the most visited museum in Germany. One day will hardly be enough to see all of it properly. The first aeroplane by the Wright brothers , Karl Benz’ first car and the Diesel engine belong to its most popular exhibits. If you are more interested in Arts you might prefer one of the art galleries. The Alte Pinakothek, the Neue Pinakothek and the Pinakothek der Moderne show exhibits from different centuries. You can choose the one you like most or simply visit all of them.
Sports plays a big role in Bavaria’s capital so you should not miss to visit the Allianz Arena, home of Germany’s most successful football club FC Bayern München as well as of TSV 1860 München. The special architecture of the stadium caused the nickname “Schlauchboot” (inflatable boat). It was the location of the opening game of the 2006 World Cup. The exterior is able to change its colour depending on the team playing.
Getting to Munich
- Plane: The airport Franz Josef Strauß lies about 30 km in the northeast of the city. It is the second biggest airport in Germany and can be reached from around 70 countries. You can get to the airport with a suburban railway in about 35 minutes from the center.
- Train: The Hauptbahnhof (main station) is located in the heart of Munich with many connections to Germany’s important cities as well as to other European countries like Italy, Austria, Czech Republic or France (to name just a few). Bear in mind travelling by train in Germany (with regular tariffs) is more expensive than in most other countries.
- Car: Munich is easy to access from every cardinal direction via A9 (Berlin, Nuremberg), A8 (Salzburg, Stuttgart), A92, A94 and A96. Keep in mind that you need a pollution badge to enter the core city with your car. Apart from that motorways are free of charge.
- Coach: Due to legal restrictions in order to protect the Deutsche Bahn (German railway) the network is far away from its potential capability. You can reach German cities as well as European cities in the east/ southeast from the bus station near the Hauptbahnhof but I recommend to travel either by plane, train or car.